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A Closer Look: Career and Technical Education in Higher Education


Most high school students enter college with some idea of what they want to be when they grow up, but many don’t always know what courses and training are needed to succeed in their desired careers. What’s more, most students start out on a post-secondary track with a wide range of experiences and knowledge.

One struggle many professors face is teaching groups of students with diverse backgrounds and skill sets – especially in agriculture, animal and food science courses. Today, technology is leveling the playing field for students with little experience in their chosen career path.

We spoke with Dr. Ryan Rathmann and Aaron Jennings, professors in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Texas Tech University, about the ways in which they tackle the changing needs of students with technology.

The Texas Tech Livestock Judging Team, coached by Dr. Ryan Rathmann.

High School vs. Higher Education

The transition between high school and college can be a fun, yet challenging time. Not just for students, but for educators as well. Consistent instruction can be difficult for professors who teach entry-level courses to students who have never had a class in a specific subject. Flipped learning environments help students learn the material and bring everyone up to speed before moving on to a higher level.

“The challenge is trying to teach an audience with varying degrees of exposure the subject matter we need to cover in the course,” Jennings said. “Students are not always at the same level prior to enrolling in the class. With iCEV, we’re able to assign materials to help bridge that experience gap and still teach effectively.”

“Education is about giving students an idea of where they can go and what career possibilities are available in the field they choose. iCEV does a good job of tying educational materials together with career placement options to help student form their vision,” Rathmann added.

Education is about giving students an idea of where they can go and what career possibilities are available in the field they choose...

Moving from Traditional to Technology

There’s no denying that people are becoming dependent on technology on a daily basis. In fact, technology and digital resources are quickly becoming a necessity for many classrooms and learning environments.

“We’re seeing that students don’t want to read from a textbook anymore. With technology becoming such a prominent fixture in schools, students would rather pull up a video or readings on their phone or tablet,” Jennings told us.

After incorporating iCEV into its undergraduate animal science courses, Texas Tech University performed an efficacy study to understand where students are looking for information and how often. The results showed that 75 percent of students wanted to learn from an online media source rather than a textbook.

“In past years, I can remember that most, if not all, of the materials we were using in a class came from the textbook,” Jennings noted. “Students are showing a willingness to learn through iCEV and other digital learning environments than through the more traditional methods.”

To learn more about Ryan and Aaron and how Texas Tech University is enhancing its introductory courses, check out the full case study.